Poetry books aftermath

I just finished two limited edition hand-sewn poetry books, Vodka Musings & Cloud Poems and High in the Andes, Book One. (That means there will be a Book Two one day, right?) An accomplishment for sure, it took over two years of talking about the books. I wrote lines of words onto ecological sugarcane paper to re-perceive the ordinary, to linger in the diverse. I worked hard, edited, hand sewed, signed and numbered each edition of 100 books of both volumes. I was gloating for weeks, but now I sit with these beautiful books in boxes. I have created more stuff. I make sure the books have plastic on top of them in case Thelonious the cat wants to get in there and rustle my words and images. Or in case there is a flood behind my eyes.

In the aftermath, I feel like a faithful fool to words and images; my lines have been cut off, my poetry has been shortened to commas and periods and very long naps.

Today I force myself into the studio to write. I find words like diluculum and crepusculum, dawn and evening twilight, words related to lucidus, bright, and creper, dusky. William James talked about the crespuscular depths of personality, the source of all our deeds and where decisions take their rise. Crepuscular depths? Maybe I have sunk too far or perhaps not far enough.  I do not want to fall into the dark hole of no body, no words, no images, but perhaps a culum, a diminutive suffix for twilight can be encouraging, morning and evening. At daybreak I may be able to reenter that stream, even if my eyes are puffy and my brain got left behind during the night.  In between diluculum and crepusculum I can bake bread, eat my spicy soup, drink strong coffee, eat chocolate superballs, sit and write nonsense until evening twilight when I can have my cocktail and edit.

Rhythm is Everywhere

Rhythm is not by its own nature
versed in iambic pentameters
to echo perfect pink clouds

Perhaps rhythm is a small triangle
of sea blue sky, at the edge
of a darkened horizon

Or a hiccup probing gently
while I catch my breath
between running rivers

Or rainwater in the stem
of a fragrant red rose
releasing its perfume

But when my heart goes too fast
I forget-shamelessly
the earth does not pause

for my second-hand
for my body to keep time
for my right leg to stop trembling

II

When unbearable hard drums
reverberate daily rhythms
and prayers are without color

When superstitions are chanted and stitched
carelessly on my underpants
with a large safety pin

When inebriations have gone too far
my lips of fear do not sing
my breath tilts backwards

In that moment of muteness
I unwind my helixes one by one
ever so lightly

Its intricate uncurling rests
near my open window
in a wind circle of lilting voices

Just before late afternoon, unwound
and unwrinkled I travel on foot – fearless –
between rhythms everywhere

If the Razor Freezes

She does not care if the razor freezes
in a heart beat and when slowness
of yesterday or the day before
becomes all the same

She does not shudder when hard rain splits
unstable earth and loosens big stones
She forgives herself – for her trespasses
for seeing all the same

Her useless mouth opens, closes,
nothing “but this”,
wherever she goes
beads leave a trail
when she fingers her pearls

Fish and Song

The end of May
mid morning, air cool, a bit windy
bicyclists ring high pitch bells
to alert pedestrians
for my safety
I twist my neck
in a constant painful knot

I wait to cross the street
on the corner
of the Kloveniersburgwal
of the Nieuwe Markt
to a very narrow fish shop
wedged between two
sixteenth century pack houses
This is where I buy my fish.

I hear his voice loud
I hear the bicycle rattle,
loose bumpers,D-minor,
I make out Eastern European
words and song.

Then I see him
He is tall, late forties, blue eyes
curly salt and pepper hair
He sits on his saddle
as if in a straight-backed chair
high above the handle bar, peddling hard
moving his body strong, right to left
He flies by me, his ballad
bringing up the rear.

What opera is he singing?

I enter the fish shop
only wide enough
for the fish man,
another customer and me.
Cod, sockeye salmon,
octopus, shrimp, langoustines,
crab, oysters, swordfish,
mackerel, sole, sardines,
long-tailed squid, and herring
are piled up high on ice.

I shoulder past the burly fish man
with his bloody rubber apron
red cheeks and a large fish
in his huge hands.
The fish strokes scales
into my hair.
Shocked I ask for fish prices.

Look lady the prices are all there.
In this shop sales are quickly done,
cod packaged, in hand, with a number
to pay the woman cashier.
In and Out.
But I long for more time
to smell and admire the fish
My back to the exit
the woman shoves a small cooked squid
into my mouth, I swallow fleshy
squid sand between my teeth.

The next day I hear
a free lunchtime concert
at the Amsterdam Concert Gebouw.
Hungarian choral music,
gloriously sung
by a hundred men and women,
their songs invite Zoltán Kodály,
Lajos Bárdos, and Béla Bartók
into my belly.

There and then I know
my tall bicyclist is here
singing about night, morning
gypsies eating Cirak cheese
baked ham, beet horseradish
and kabeljauw
their thick tongues,
red from Carpethian wine
purged in the morning
with strong coffee and new appetites.

The bicyclist’s voice brushes over me
tomorrow if I go back
to the narrow fish store
on the Kloveniersburgwal
where I can refresh my memory
of a tall man riding his bike
singing about life
and filleted cod fish.

 

La Tarantula

In my dreams, resistance
breaks up
into miserable robberies
and unforeseen killings,
dead on
I cradle hilarious laughter
in soft flabby arms
like a mother holding her infant.
My life depends on this

When a big black spider
perhaps a tarantula
crawls under my blanket
I slash its hairy legs
with a machete
too many times
until my love pulls me towards him
and quiets my fear.
My life depends on this

The spider never knew resistance
It never knew what bad dreams
can make a woman do.

The next morning
I awaken with a dry poisonous throat
The all-legs-shriveled up spider,
La Tarantula,
lies on my pillow,
like a worn-out mandolin,
a pear shape, with a
severely damaged fretted neck.

La Tarantula had smoothed pine beams
tree sap, tiny amber nuggets
frozen in time.
in search of her mate.
My warm body obliterated her
in the middle of the night.

I rest with La Tarantula
my eyes wide open, vigilant,
her filaments, drying like angel dust,
detach deliberately from my sins
until there is no trace, no shadow
My life depends on this.

Flying Stones

Flying Stones, oil painting

Flying Stones, oil painting

Propelled into sky
tumbling at lightening speed
towards my body
lying in tall green grass
maroon dirt rivulets
my face unrecognizably
fierce, against flying rocks,
stone sculptures
carved of antiquity, undone
I hide in a crevice
of a deep gulley.

For days I lie there
waiting, wanting, wavering
between two worlds
lost and untethered
until I reach out, hands first
then my arms, one by one
the stones fly over me
they never even touch me
they do not break me into pieces
even though they are out of line
and not in their common place
they thunder along without me
I am still here, alone
without brothers, without sisters
no mother, no father
in a foreign land.

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Sometimes Poetry is Asleep

That is when I go a slight bit insane
Even though I remember
Somewhere deep inside
Where images fly from left to right,
Down and under, in cunning  twists
All winging, as if they are foreign birds
Taking on extreme heights.
I know I cannot fly like that
But at the same time, I can fly
Somewhere inside, where
For the moment poetry is asleep.
It is like frothy milk oozing in a full udder
Of a mama cow,
Her bright pink skin bulbous
Waiting to be suckled again|
Waiting for that moment of release.
My question is: When can I bless the sky?
The mountains, trees, turkeys,
And the chickens, who in turn
Taught the turkeys how to peck
For food, for soul, for wellbeing.
Sometimes poetry is fast asleep.
Sometimes poetry is already there.